Ayn Rand : biography
Ayn Rand (; born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum; January 20 (February 2) 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher,; ; ; . playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two early novels that were initially less successful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel The Fountainhead.
In 1957, she published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward she turned to nonfiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982. Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism, and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral; ; ; ; and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting a minarchist limited government and laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for some Aristotelians and classical liberals.;
Rand’s fiction was poorly received by many literary critics, and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.;
Rand was born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum () on February 2, 1905, to a bourgeois family living in Saint Petersburg. She was the eldest of the three daughters of Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and his wife, Anna Borisovna (née Kaplan), largely non-observant Jews. Zinovy Rosenbaum was a successful pharmacist, eventually owning a pharmacy and the building in which it was located.; ; Rand found school unchallenging, and said she began writing screenplays at the age of eight and novels at the age of ten. She was twelve at the time of the February Revolution of 1917, during which she favored Alexander Kerensky over Tsar Nicholas II.
The subsequent October Revolution and the rule of the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin disrupted the comfortable life the family had previously enjoyed. Her father’s pharmacy business was confiscated and the family displaced. They fled to the Crimea, which was initially under control of the White Army during the Russian Civil War. She later recalled that while in high school she determined that she was an atheist and that she valued reason above any other human virtue. After graduating from high school in the Crimea at 16, Rand returned with her family to Petrograd (the new name for Saint Petersburg), where they faced desperate conditions, on occasion nearly starving.
After the Russian Revolution, universities were opened to women, allowing Rand to be in the first group of women to enroll at Petrograd State University, where she studied in the department of social pedagogy, majoring in history. At the university she was introduced to the writings of Aristotle and Plato, who would be her greatest influence and counter-influence, respectively.; A third figure whose philosophical works she studied heavily was Friedrich Nietzsche. Able to read French, German and Russian, Rand also discovered the writers Fyodor Dostoevsky, Victor Hugo, Edmond Rostand, and Friedrich Schiller, who became her perennial favorites.
Along with many other "bourgeois" students, Rand was purged from the university shortly before graduating. However, after complaints from a group of visiting foreign scientists, many of the purged students were allowed to complete their work and graduate,; which Rand did in October 1924. She subsequently studied for a year at the State Technicum for Screen Arts in Leningrad. For one of her assignments, she wrote an essay about the Polish actress Pola Negri, which became her first published work.